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A new remote controlled drone is being used by Queensland Urban Utilities to inspect its highest water reservoirs in southeast Queensland safely and more easily.

The drone was one of the innovative ideas on show at Ozwater’14, Australia’s international water conference, recently held in Brisbane.

Queensland Urban Utilities Chief Operating Officer, Robin Lewis, said the drone provided an eagle eye view of water reservoirs up to 30 metres high.

“We have 125 water reservoirs across our five service territories and they all need to be regularly inspected,” he said.

“Before we had the drone it was a challenging job as many of our reservoirs are located on towers, which required staff to work at great heights.

“It would have previously taken four staff at least half a day to inspect a reservoir and required the use of boom lifts. Now it can be done in less than five minutes.”

Drone operator, Mike Oakey, said the four-blade helicopter, or quadricopter, was constructed from light-weight foam and equipped with a small HD video camera.

“The drone allows us to inspect the condition of the concrete holding tanks, look for leaks and check the vermin proofing,” he said.

“As well as making the job easier and safer for our crews, it also saves us a substantial amount of money. For an initial outlay of $350 for the drone, we can save thousands on the cost of each inspection.

“The first drone has been so successful that we’re considering purchasing another four and creating a drone fleet.”

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